It's been said for centuries that knowledge is power. Well, while it's not said nearly as much, knowledge can also be scary.
Jenny Marsh learned that in 2018 during a routine visit with her gynecologist. After counting up family members who had experienced cancer, almost filling up both hands, her doctor handed her a genetic screening kit.
This kit held knowledge and power. This kit could provide her with knowledge and power. Yet in the meantime, Jenny only held hesitation and fear.
After putting it off for over a month, she decided to complete the kit and send it in.
A few weeks later, she learned she tested positive for the BCRA2 gene.
Testing positive for the BCRA2 breast cancer gene (or the BCRA1 gene) means you have a mutation in the gene which indicates a much higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
Over the following few weeks, Jenny spent her time visiting with doctors, researching, and deciding her next move.
Within two months, she decided to remove her fallopian tubes and ovaries to reduce her risk of ovarian cancer. Next came the decision to have a double mastectomy, removing both breasts, to reduce her risk of breast cancer.
"The months waiting to have the surgery were filled with sleepless nights, tears, and anxiety," she recalled. "I felt out of control and powerless, with nothing to do but wait."
To curb the restlessness, Jenny leaned on her faith, and also picked up a hobby.
After coming across sewing patterns for pillows she could use in the car or hospital for comfort, she decided to give it a go, quickly discovering a knack for it.
"When I realized how simple the sewing projects were, I began to make more of the pillows to donate them to my doctors' offices," she said. "When I felt anxious or restless, I sewed. It not only kept me busy and took my mind off the upcoming surgery, but I also began to feel connected to the other women going through similar situations."
Looking back on her journey, Jenny is filled with gratitude for her family, her medical team, and a hand sized kit.
"That small genetic testing box changed and blessed my life in ways I am forever grateful for."
And as for fear? She's grateful for that, too.
"Knowledge is power. Knowing I am BCRA2+ led me to the decision to be proactive about my health and has truly opened my eyes to how beautiful life truly is," she said. "It's okay to be afraid, but it's not okay to let that fear stop you from trying."
Thank you Jenny for sharing your story with us! Your courage inspires us all, giving us knowledge and power! Before we go, let's extend our warmest birthday wishes to Rosemary Sideboard Hughes (February Survivor) and Debbie Savage (May Survivor), who celebrate this month.
Until next time, keep up with us on Instagram and keep your Eye on Strength!